From Friday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
The Port of Whitman County is preparing to take legal action against Losonoco following the biofuels company's continued failure to pay off the remainder of its lease.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company had planned to construct a $10 million oilseed crushing plant at the Port of Wilma, but Port Properties and Development Manager Debbie Snell said it hasn't made a payment on its lease since January.
Losonoco signed a 10-year lease with the port in 2007, agreeing to pay $24,150 per year for rights to 10.5 acres, and an additional $2,300 a year for the right of first refusal on an additional 10 acres of land at the site. The company also expected to hire a local staff of about 20 full-time employees, in addition to employing many temporary construction workers to build its facilities.
Snell said the company still owes approximately $12,000 on the lease.
"Basically, we just have not been able to put the economics together to close out the lease," she said.
The port sent a default letter to the company in early May, giving Losonoco a June 30 deadline for payment. The port extended the deadline to July 8 after company officials indicated they would not be able to make payment at that time.
Snell said the company has now failed to meet the new deadline, forcing the port to initiate the legal process to recover the money.
"If they make payment soon then this will all mean nothing," she said. "They've assured me that they are trying to make the payment, but have to wait until they receive proceeds from an equipment sale before they can do so."
Snell said she believes the company has acted in good faith but that economic conditions in the commodities market have turned the Port of Wilma plans into an unrealistic option.
"They just got broadsided," she said. "Now it's just a matter of moving on and finding the right fit for a new tenant."
Daily News calls to a number listed for the company's Fort Lauderdale headquarters were not answered.